Nazis marching in America


#441

Yeah, that article by Jordy Cummings is a much better critique of Nagle than the one by Berlatsky. Ultimately, though, what it achieves is mostly to drag Nagle down off her high horse and into the muck of the culture wars along with everyone else (Jordy Cummings included)—or, rather, to point out that Nagle was already in that muck slogging it out to begin with. Cummings rightly accuses Nagle of dilettantism, and I think he does a pretty good job in pointing out that Nagle’s attack on the very concept of counterculture doesn’t really hit home particularly well. Yet, while Cummings does a pretty good job in attacking one of Nagle’s core theses, he does very little (other than demonstrate his own cultural savviness and denigrate Nagle’s) to actually address her other criticisms of “the Left”.

Cummings also correctly accuses Nagle of this:

but he fails to acknowledge that he is doing the exact same thing himself, albeit with slightly greater subtlety and flair:

On a similar note, Cummings accuses Nagle of trying to “build hegemony within the Left culture”, but in the very same paragraph he proceeds to say that “[the] socialist Left has no room for this kind of thinking” viz. her attack on counterculture. I find myself wishing I could laugh at this, but given the knowledge that this kind of thing happens in political writing all the time and Cummings’ piece is well above average, the best I can do is to find it darkly amusing.

For now, I’ll respond to a couple of key comments by Cummings, which I think are more broadly reflective of problems in the social justice left. I suspect that Nagle may not have formulated many of her criticisms as cogent arguments, but I’m not especially aware of anyone else who has, so I guess that it’s time for me to roll up my sleeves and follow the old adage that “if you want to get the job done right, you have to do it yourself”.

No! No! Straight white cis people should not simply “listen and believe”, because the problem with choosing to simply “listen and believe” is that it means that the only way you can possibly end up getting the facts right is if you happen to listen to the right people to begin with. This is an issue that has little to do with any kind of right to “not believe survivors of sexual assault”, and framing the issue that way is toxic.

If it turns out that no one has the facts right, you’re screwed by default. Also, a common by-product of “listen and believe” w.r.t. someone who accuses someone else of sexual assault is that you must also “not listen [to] and not believe” people who are accused of it, even though sometimes (albeit rarely) the accused person really does turn out to be innocent. If the best you can do when it comes to difficult “subjective” matters is tell someone to “listen and believe”, then you have a lot less ground to stand on when someone comes up and tells you that they’ve chosen to listen to and believe Osama bin Laden, Richard Spencer, or Donald Trump.

The most egregious problem with this kind of framing (and often accusations of victim blaming or rape apology) is that in many cases this plays into in a false dichotomy that is seriously toxic. Either you 100% believe the victim, or you 100% believe the accused. Either the victim is telling the truth and the perpetrator is irredeemably evil, or they are a malicious liar out to defame an innocent soul. Any attempt to understand or empathize with either person (or both) gets you painted as either a rape apologist or a naive snowflake depending on who you’re talking to (I can’t think of a more appropriate term than “naive snowflake” because I’m not sure what term an alt-right shitlord would use). This kind of false dichotomy leaves little to no ground for rational thought or discussion, and fails to acknowledge that human memory is flawed, and human thinking is clouded by myriad cognitive biases.

Most importantly, setting up (or rhetorically insinuating) this kind of dichotomy between siding with the victim and siding with the accused is often a tactical error, and in a broader sense it is a fucking massive strategic error. Nazis know that people generally have an easier time empathizing with people who are similar to themselves, whether in culture or in appearance, and so if you boil down these kinds of social issues to mere questions of “subjectivity” and make them about empathizing with and/or listening to the correct person, an overly large fraction of white moderates might choose the wrong side, and then it’s game over; the Nazis win.

[[Yes, the false dichotomy I suggested is not something people tend to explicitly put forward, but it can sometimes be insinuated via cognitive biases or rhetorical sleight of hand. The claim that “the Nazis win” is also obviously hyperbolic, but I still think it’s vital to make the general point that extremely polarized discussion one these matters, especially with respect to accusations of being a rape apologist, can actually be highly counter-productive; c.f. “Jacobinghazi”]]

Of course, I am not saying that you should go around questioning people’s subjective accounts to their faces; that would be a serious violation of common courtesy a la sealioning and could quite easily be highly traumatic to someone. It’s also not to say that victims of sexual assault shouldn’t receive protection and support from the people around them and society more broadly, because they quite obviously should. But giving someone the courtesy, respect and support they deserve emphatically does not mean that you need to believe every word they say. It also does not mean that you should go out and participate in destroying the life of the person they’re accusing in an act of extrajudicial punishment. If you want to avoid bandwagoning against innocent people, rational thought (and not subjectivity) is the only way out.

The social justice left has a very important point in saying that, as a general rule, one should protect, listen to, and often believe someone who accuses someone else of sexual assault, and not the person being accused. After all, false claims of sexual assault are a rare phenomenon, whereas actual sexual assault is a common one. Where some (such as, apparently, Jordy Cummings) go wrong is in attempting to interpret these kinds of situational heuristics and ethical guidelines as universal principles. It’s an understandable issue, because when it comes to the real world any situation is nuanced in a way that is extremely difficult to factor into any kind of political discourse, and even more difficult to make a rational argument for. But the fact that making solid arguments for these things is actually hard is not an excuse for failing to make them, and the fact that this nuance is hard to express is not an excuse for pretending it isn’t there.

Oh, hell no! Fuck anyone who takes issue with humanizing Others, no matter how shitty those Others are (or seem to be). It is very often true that the Other Side is nowhere near as evil as you think they are, even if the Other Side are Nazis.

Cummings compliments Nagle on being “informative” and “accurate”, yet he seems to miss the fact that an essential part of actually understanding a movement is to figure out the real motivations and thought patterns of the people who make up that movement. Meanwhile, Cummings seems to be sneering at Nagle for taking that idea seriously, and insinuating that she is guilty by association for even allowing herself to even think about what it might be like to be an alt-righter.

As for the accusation that Nagle “writes about female cultural producers in a sneering, scornful way”, and Berlatsky’s accusations that Nagle is “posturing” and “being edgy”, I think that both critics are missing a very important point. Cummings and Berlatsky both recognize (with some sneering) that Nagle’s target audience is largely people on the left, but then, crucially, fail to recognize what this implies. Why should Nagle waste her own time, or the time of her readers, explaining or talking about things that she already agrees with them about?

How very shocking that a novel that is largely documentary in intent fails to directly suggest courses for future action! Also:

-Sun Tzu, The Art of War


#442

https://twitter.com/jiveassbaIoney/status/904879932085592064


#443

That’s pretty fucking hilarious.

It pisses me off quite a bit that it plays into the false dichotomy that either you exterminate Nazis or you attempt to debunk them one-on-one with reason and logic, thus ignoring many other effective (often more effective, less harmful, and less counterproductive) society-level tactics that can be used such as stigmatizing, ostracizing, deplatforming, and inoculating people against propaganda. It implicitly assumes that Nazis exist in equal numbers to centrists when they quite clearly do not. Overall, it feels like a ridiculous strawman of the positions of more reasonable centrists.

Despite angering me it’s still pretty fucking hilarious, though.


#444

I mean, the end goal of the latter is still exterminating fascism, just with hopefully less violence involved. The American left’s complaint is that the center-left won’t actually engage in those tactics, because they actually do believe in the “reason and logic” approach and/or don’t recognize modern-day Nazis for what they are. The social-pressure approaches only work with mass support, and thus antifa feel like they need to be able to resort to violence.


#445

What you’re missing is that while reason and logic aren’t particularly effective against Nazis, they can work against centrists. If the centrists (center left or otherwise) aren’t pulling their weight, what leftists and woke centrists need to do is educate them.

The problem with some of antifa’s more extreme tactics is that many of them serve to marginalize and alienate centrists, who are subsequently less likely to listen to the left and more likely to buy into bullshit like this:

Not only is this counter-productive, it actually plays into the Nazis’ hands. One thing the Nazis really want to do is to resurrect the dread spectre of communism and use it to scare people in the center. Similarly, those on the left who fight Nazi propaganda with propaganda of their own aren’t really doing themselves a favour. Yeah, the left’s propaganda often works better, but if you let the political language become increasingly polarized you are once again in danger of alienating the center.

I also reject your premise about the lack of mass support. The public reaction to Charlottesville was (as far as I can tell) pretty heavily against the Nazis. The Nazis themselves seem to recognize this; per the 4can post that ContraPoints linked:

i.e. Charlottesville was (or should have been) a huge tactical blunder by the alt right. After the event, people mostly weren’t really buying into Trump’s “both sides” whataboutism, and plenty of Republicans denounced what happened.

The main thing that antifa achieved in the August 27 Berkeley protests is that they basically vindicated Trump’s point that there really is violence on “both sides”. Antifa came out of Charlottesville looking pretty clean, but after Berkeley—not so much.

I understand quite well that antifa really do feel that they need to be able to resort to violence. What antifa needs to understand is that actually winning is way, way more important than any of their feelings, and in order to win they need to strategize. The fascists are strategizing, so anyone who takes them seriously had damned well better do the same thing, rather than relying only on feelings, and allowing themselves to be manipulated by the alt right. Antifa is probably quite well-meaning, on the whole, but well-meaning or not they’re playing right into the Nazis’ hands.


#446

Unrelated to nazis marching or really what you’re saying but I really really really, personally hate the fact that we have a word for the concept of woke.

It’s not the word itself, woke is as good a word as any other, it’s that it has a word at all. The fact that there’s a word means it’s now a status symbol you can just have. I am woke, therefore all is fine. No, fuck that. It leads to people trying to demonstrate it to prove something.

You wanna be “woke” how about just understand that the world has problems, try and see them, try and help, understand that you’re gonna make mistakes and deal with that so that when you do it doesn’t cause you to flip, and live your life as a good person.

You shouldn’t have to demonstrate that you care about the lives of other people, you should just care about them.

/rant


#447

Anyone whose response to Antifa is to move away from the left was already harboring some amount of really fucked up viewpoints (possibly straight-up Nazi sympathizing).

The idea that Antifa initiates violence is largely false. Antifa can be credited with protecting a number of protesters and helping ensure that violence against them is minimized. As shown by the death of Heather Heyer, Fascists will resort to murder and will not appropriately call out that violence.

You can’t paint Antifa in a light that is inaccurate. Support them or not, but spreading lies about them and the nature of what they accomplish is fucking pointless.


#448

I’m sorry, but conflating a person’s opposition to violent tactics to “harboring some amount of really fucked up viewpoints” and “possibly straight-up Nazi sympathizing” is ridiculous. There are plenty of people on this forum who don’t agree with everything Antifa has done, and I don’t think any of them are Nazi sympathizers or have fucked up viewpoints.

These things are not mutually exclusive. To their credit, Antifa did protect a number of protesters and clergy during Charlottesville. That doesn’t mean that they also don’t initiate violence.

In 2013, in Portland Oregon for the Rose Festival, "In the days leading up to the planned parade, a group called the Direct Action Alliance declared, “Fascists plan to march through the streets,” and warned, “Nazis will not march through Portland unopposed… Next, the parade’s organizers received an anonymous email warning that if “Trump supporters” and others who promote “hateful rhetoric” marched, “we will have two hundred or more people rush into the parade … and drag and push those people out.” Antifa didn’t initiate violence, but they definitely threatened it.

“Since antifa is heavily composed of anarchists, its activists place little faith in the state, which they consider complicit in fascism and racism. They prefer direct action: They pressure venues to deny white supremacists space to meet. They pressure employers to fire them and landlords to evict them. (These things I have no problem with) And when people they deem racists and fascists manage to assemble, antifa’s partisans try to break up their gatherings, including by force.”

“In June of last year, demonstrators—at least some of whom were associated with antifa—punched and threw eggs at people exiting a Trump rally in San Jose, California. An article in It’s Going Down celebrated the “righteous beatings.””

“A similar cycle has played out at UC Berkeley. In February, masked antifascists broke store windows and hurled Molotov cocktails and rocks at police during a rally against the planned speech by Yiannopoulos.”

“What’s eroding in Portland is the quality Max Weber considered essential to a functioning state: a monopoly on legitimate violence. As members of a largely anarchist movement, antifascists don’t want the government to stop white supremacists from gathering. They want to do so themselves, rendering the government impotent. With help from other left-wing activists, they’re already having some success at disrupting government.”

"Antifa believes it is pursuing the opposite of authoritarianism. Many of its activists oppose the very notion of a centralized state. But in the name of protecting the vulnerable, antifascists have granted themselves the authority to decide which Americans may publicly assemble and which may not. That authority rests on no democratic foundation. Unlike the politicians they revile, the men and women of antifa cannot be voted out of office. Generally, they don’t even disclose their names.

Antifa’s perceived legitimacy is inversely correlated with the government’s. Which is why, in the Trump era, the movement is growing like never before. As the president derides and subverts liberal-democratic norms, progressives face a choice. They can recommit to the rules of fair play, and try to limit the president’s corrosive effect, though they will often fail. Or they can, in revulsion or fear or righteous rage, try to deny racists and Trump supporters their political rights. From Middlebury to Berkeley to Portland, the latter approach is on the rise, especially among young people.

Revulsion, fear, and rage are understandable. But one thing is clear. The people preventing Republicans from safely assembling on the streets of Portland may consider themselves fierce opponents of the authoritarianism growing on the American right. In truth, however, they are its unlikeliest allies."


#449

To be blunt, they aren’t exactly wrong about this point. That’s one of the whole problems, that the Nazis/alt-right/Conferdates are a place this country has been. The US’s white people, we have a fucked up history of actions that need to be changed.

The problem isn’t just the Nazi in the streets, it’s the nazi in people’s heads.


#450

Absolutely. I agree with you 100%.

That leaves us with two options:

  1. Burn the whole thing down

  2. Acknowledge that there are major problems with the state and try to fix them. If this is the option you want to take,like @lackofcheese wrote, progressives and liberals need the help of centrists to do this. Pushing them away and scaring them with violent tactics is incredibly counter-productive.


#451

The problem is that centrists consistently don’t step up to the plate on important issues and want leftists to be silent about “identity politics” for a while and that’s acceptable.

We only need centrists because the entire political system is broken.


#452

I think the center is the place where people want to live, most of the time. Where things don’t change much, and they have a sense of order in the world around them. In that sense, we don’t need them, certainly not leading anything. The “White Moderate” is a threat to things actually getting done because they don’t want change.

The best I think you can hope for is convince them that change needs to happen and I…

I’m not really sure how that happens. Because I’m finding myself running into a brick wall with my 60-year old mother and her complete white cluelessness when it comes to things like this. And I’m doing what I can, because she’s my mother and willing to listen to me. I don’t know how to drag the great mushy middle into a book-club to read “The New Jim Crow”


#453

Exactly. A “moderate” position in America involves being uncomfortable with trans people and “All Lives Matter.” This is why getting the Centrists on your side accomplishes nothing. Our country needs a jolt of progress, because without it, we become increasingly susceptible to less loud white supremacists stealthily making their ideas appeal to people (Read: What happened to gaming culture during Gamergate).


#454

Or even more subtle - being uncomfortable, but vaguely in favor of progressive-ish things, as long as no one is being rude about it. And ten years after some other people got loud and angry enough to take a baby step to the left, they’ll tell you they always supported them in their hearts. I can hold my bf’s hand in the street without fearing for my life because queer people had to throw bricks at cops before the country could begin to talk about whether we’re people at all.

The right apparently has it easy, because all you need to do is dress nice and everyone’s super stoked that the guy advocating a white ethno-state is so polite and handsome.


#455

Actual centrists, anyway. Not the weird definition people seem to be using lately, which is “Anyone to the right of the platonic ideal of a utopian socialist”, so that they can sneer at the democrats as “Centrists.”

Fucking what? The Leftists are the ones demanding we stop talking about identity politics!
Shuja Haider, Bernie Sanders, Chapo trap house, Jacobin mag, TYT, you name it, at some point in the recent past we’ve had the big and respected voices of the “Leftist” faction expressing their disdain for identity politics. Katherine Cross, socialist sociologist and ex-Jacobin writer, got excluded from the leftist faction and derided as a neoliberal, because she openly supported identity politics.


#456

Getting Centrists on your side accomplishes EVERYTHING, not nothing, because while you’re alienating them, and writing them off instead of engaging with them, the other side is there ready to use them to accomplish their own goals. We have to turn the Centrists into Progressives, or at least moderately Progressive, and the only way to do that is through patience and engagement. All new ideas get pushback. People fear what they don’t understand or don’t come into contact with, and instead of crucifying them for that, we need to reach out to them.

If you’re worried about our society becoming increasingly susceptible to less loud racists, punching Nazis and forcing them underground, whether in real life or online, creates the very environment that allows them to stealthily promote their ideas. Punching a Nazi might stop the person, but if you want to stop the ideas behind that person, you have to fight their ideas with your own. Look at what happened in Boston. There were so many counter-protesters that the actual Nazis barely even showed up. This needs to happen every time and everywhere. If the Alt-Right, the KKK, the Nazis, whomever, bring 1000 people, there needs to be 5000 counter-protestors. Ironically, denying Nazis a platform for their ideas also denies us our platform to challenge their ideas. It allows their ideas to fester and grow unchecked because we don’t know about it.

Forcing Nazis underground just makes them sympathetic and their ideas taboo and forbidden, and without a good counterargument, people, especially young people, are drawn to the taboo and forbidden.


#457

The point of that tweet and its thread was that (white) people are focusing on antifa tactics re: convincing white people, more than structural racism.


(so you can read the whole thing)

Focusing criticism on resistance in order to be more palatable to indifferent white people is itself an act of white supremacy, centering white needs, interests, and ignorant demands as important. What I fail to see explained is why these people, who somehow haven’t made up their minds about Nazis being BAD, are so valuable, so tactical, so strategic to court. Why?? How are these lemmings useful?

Additionally, the argument hinges on tone policing. The marker of privilege is the failure to recognize that when it comes to fighting systemic power imbalance, there will always be a framing that can be used against you. Power ensures itself. In other words, you will always be too X.

If that line of reasoning convinces anyone, it’s because the rationale is retroactive.

The white moderate believes that their myopic, misinformed, and irrelevant perspective is sufficient, valid, default, and as (or more) legitimate than the lived experiences shared by a multitude of people who look different. When they talk about “people” without any racial adjectives, they mean white people. They mistake their stance for a mythical neutrality/objectivity/rationality, one that just reinforces the status quo. They take for granted and fail to recognize their own role in systemic injustice and biases that define their normality. They get defensive when confronted with their own privilege, because it’s perceived as a personal attack. They present themselves as fair arbiters, who would join your cause after you fulfill the prerequisite engagement challenge with moving goalposts.

In reality, they feel entitled to the labor spent to earn their approval. They are less interested in justice than making things about them. They would be satisfied to return to a peace ignorant of the violence which enables it, because being violent in opposing that violence is somehow worse. Hard pass.


#458

Everything you wrote above is completely true. But you end your comment with “Hard pass.”

What’s the solution then?

Because these people vote. Because at the end of the day, this thread is about Nazis marching in America, not the UK, or Australia, or anywhere else, and as long as there’s an Electoral College, as long as each state gets two Senators, as long as the House of Representatives is capped at 435, and as long as Federal Judges and Supreme Court Justices service lifetime appointments, moderates are going to be the ones playing ideological king-maker in this country.

Sure, you could live in New York or California, or another Blue State, but nationally, Progressives have to appeal to moderates, which means white people. Yes, demographically the country is becoming less White and less Christian, but unless you want to wait 20-30 years for the baby boomer generation to all die off, and even then, nothing is guaranteed with partisan gerrymandering and voter suppression, that means appealing to moderates… Or, like I wrote above, you could just want to burn the whole thing down.

Additionally, your point about white people focusing on antifa tactics instead of structural racism is also true, but as long as the media focuses on antifa tactics instead of structural racism, antifa needs to be addressed.

Finally, the article you linked to talking about Martin Luther King misses the point, at least in relation to antifa. People keep bringing up how it’s white privilege to denounce violence against Nazis, which is absolutely true, but from what I’ve seen, antifa is a predominantly white organization. Sure there are some exceptions, but basically you have a bunch of white antifa people punching a bunch of white Nazi assholes. I don’t see many POC going around promoting violence indiscriminately, just white people. I did all kinds of Google searches with various antifa search terms, and while it’s hard to tell for sure because most of the members have their faces covered, it’s almost predominantly white people (If I’m wrong about this, I genuinely want to know).

Since minorities and POC are the ones being targeted by Nazis and other Alt-Right organizations, I have to wonder, has antifa actually asked minorities and POC if they want antifa to be violent on their behalf? Maybe some minorities and POC think it’s just as counterproductive to use violence indiscriminately as much as I do.

My point is that there’s privilege on both sides of this issue. There’s the privilege of white people like me who don’t want to use indiscriminate violence, and there’s the privilege of the predominantly white antifa people who think they have free reign to fight Nazis however they want. Nowhere in your post about privilege is a discussion of what strategies and tactics are actually most effective. Let’s have THAT discussion. I can be myopic and exposing my white privilege to not want to use violence, but if that’s the tactic that works best, that’s the tactic that should be used.


#459


And so I come to this – white liberal Christian friends, I’m talking to you. I’ve seen a lot of condemnation of “violent response,” lots of selective quoting Dr. King, lots of disparagement of antifa and the so-called “alt-left,” a moral equivalency from the depths of Hell if I ever saw one. You want to be nonviolent? That is good and noble. I think…I think I do, too. But I want you to understand what you’re asking of the people who take this necessary stance against white supremacy, the people who go to look evil in the face. You’re asking them to be beaten with brass knuckles, with bats, with fists. To be pounded into the ground, stomped on, and smashed. You’re asking them to bleed on the pavement and the grass. Some of them are going to die. And you’re asking them to do that without defending themselves.


#460

Short answer: yes those conversations are happening, and I agree that it’s important that they do. And yes, white antifa are using their plot armor for people without it. Go to a BLM event instead of googling.

I’m not saying to burn it all down. But that if white “moderates” aren’t convinced already, it’s a more efficient use of time and effort restoring non gerrymandered voting rights, or enabling voting access to POC who don’t need convincing. Or hell, contributing to outreach and education groups. Tone policing just feeds the both sides narrative that white moderates eat up. Flippantly: let’s just hire a PR firm since the Nazis have one already.

Also, if you really want to be non-violent, trust law enforcement & justice system, and still want to help, become a legal observer. I’m not sure what good it will do anymore since we are in the GRRM timeline, but it’s good to have.

@Apreche thanks for the link.